It is said that horse racing is the most exciting two minutes in sports–and for me, I know I’ve felt some adrenaline watching the horses race. There is something beautiful in the powerful stride of a thoroughbred–a horse bred to race. There have been a number of famous horses through the years, but arguably, Secretariat is perhaps one of the most famous. This was a phenomenal horse, and to get you in mind for the book I plan to share with you, here is a video of Secretariat’s record breaking race in 1973.
**I received a copy of this book from Zondervan and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**
A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.
An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.
Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance–and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder–Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail–Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.
“The best way to beat somebody is to show them you are, and to succeed by doin’ what they say you can’t.”
-Cullen McGrath, To Win Her Favor
Characters: I adored the characters in this book. Both Cullen and Maggie are passionate and quite likeable characters. Both find themselves in a hard spot–Wanting something that society tells them they can’t have. For Cullen, it’s the prejudice against his nationality. He’s Irish and a lot of the people in Nashville don’t want anything to do with him. Maggie is a woman who wants to train racehorses and for her own thoroughbred, Bourbon Belle, wants to see her win races. The characters are wonderfully well rounded, and are joined by some other great secondary characters–including references to some of Tamera Alexander’s other novels set around Nashville.
Storyline: This story of overcoming challenges (which also included a beautifully sweet romance) was a fantastic read. The characters had a lot to deal with–between starting a marriage that was more of a business arrangement, fighting men who would rather see Cullen fail, and Maggie who had a dream that was threatened to never be fulfilled. There was always something new coming up that created tension that really pushed this story forward and plenty of character development that made it satisfying.
My Thoughts: I loved it! I had a hard time putting this book down. The pacing of the love story element was fantastic, and I loved the incorporation of the horse racing. The novel also has powerful themes in it which just made it even better. This is a book that demonstrates how wonderful of an author Tamera Alexander is… and I’m looking forward to her next book.
NOTE: For some readers, they may find some scenes a bit too passionate for their taste.
About the Author:
Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including A Lasting Impression, A Beauty SoRare, To Whisper Her Name, and From a Distance. Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.
These awards include two Christy Awards for Excellence in Christian fiction, two RITA awards for Best Inspirational Romance, three Gayle Wilson Awards of Excellence, two Bookseller’s Best Awards, and being listed among Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction, among others.
After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville where they enjoy life with their two adult children who live nearby, and Jack, a precious—and precocious—silky terrier.
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